World Cup 2014 Team-by-Team Guide: Brazil can reach final
Past tournaments: 1930, 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010
Previous Best: Winners – Sweden 1958, Chile 1962, Mexico 1970, USA 1994, Japan and South Korea 2002
How they got here: Brazil qualified as hosts this time round, which has been both a blessing and a curse for the Selecao, given that they have been bereft of competitive games for much of the past two years. Still, beating holders Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup has eased some worries.
Star man: Neymar (Barcelona)
Though he has only shown flashes of the talent that convinced Barca to splash the cash over the summer, Neymar nevertheless remains the main man for Brazil.
Already the face of the tournament in his homeland, big things are expected of the forward, who has an impressive record of 30 goals in 47 international appearances.
Brazil’s Confederations Cup triumph owed much to Neymar, with the 22-year-old notching up four goals along the way, including key strikes against Italy and Spain. Repeat that kind of form and the Samba Boys could dance to glory.
Under the radar: Fred (Fluminense)
A player once known more for his womanising ways than his talent on the pitch, Fred has seized the initiative in the battle to be Brazil’s no.9 with a series of impressive displays for the Selecao that, like Neymar, culminated in a starring role at the Confederations Cup.
With few players going under the radar in the Brazil squad, the 30-year-old looks a great bet for the Golden Boot, having claimed the Silver Boot Award at the Confederations Cup after scoring five goals, with braces against Italy and Spain to his name.
His form hasn’t been reserved solely for international duty either, with Fred scoring 62 times in 96 games for Fluminense in five seasons. Good in the air and a fine finisher, the forward has European pedigree too, having scored regularly at Lyon domestically and in Europe before returning to Brazil.
Team nutcase: David Luiz (Chelsea)
Described by Gary Neville as playing as if he was “controlled by a 10-year-old in the crowd on a Playstation” the Selecao defender is known for a gung-ho playing style that means he is as likely to score a sensational goal as he is to get involved in a horror tackle.
A tally of 38 yellow cards in seven seasons is impressive enough, while the Chelsea man managed to get booked twice in the all-too-brief Confederations Cup. He also bears a striking resemblance to Simpsons character Sideshow Bob and could prove similarly villainous this summer!
How far can they go?
Given that Pele recently compared Brazil’s previous failure to win the World Cup in 1950 with the assassination of JFK, it’s fair to say that the pressure is very much on the Selecao.
However playing on home soil offers Samba Boys a real advantage, with the climate likely to hamper many European rivals. Having beaten Spain and Italy recently they will be confident of progress, particular under Phil Scolari – a manager who brought home the World Cup in 2002.
Argentina represent the biggest threat but, provided the likes of Neymar and Oscar perform, and with home support behind them, a final appearance, if not victory, looks the bare minimum.
Our verdict: Final
Watch Brazil outclass World Cup holders Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup
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